Departments and Ministries
Dear Dr. Smith
10. Dear Dr. Smith,
How might a couple deal with guilt from their past experiences? Guilty Spouse
Dear Guilty Spouse
Guilt can be a crippling and disabling emotion, so it is important to face the circumstances that may be generating it. There are times when an individual may have labeled his/her feelings as guilt, when it may not be. People are not always able to identify the feeling they experience and may very well call it what it is not. For example, many times anger is identified as rage, or sadness or even guilt.
So assuming you are experiencing guilt, it is likely there is some event or experience you had that you feel badly about. It is likely to be a conflict of values. When you do things or participate in experiences that oppose your values you are likely to feel ashamed, or to feel like you violated yourself or were violated. The first thing you need is to genuinely ask God for forgiveness (I John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness).
Secondly, you need to FORGIVE yourself. The past is gone, it is water under the bridge. LET GO and MOVE ON!! Accept your role in the event and own it, learn from it and pledge never to do something so stupid again (by God's Grace). You are likely to project your feelings onto your spouse, or you may displace your feelings upon your spouse, child or children. If you find that this is happening, seek a professional counselor.
If you were hurt, or abused by someone, and you find that you experience flashbacks or you are affected by the event in your current relationship with your spouse, then you need to let go. You are the survivor not the victim. Don't beat yourself up. Some people accept blame and feel guilty for acts that are done to them. They often blame themselves by telling themselves that they should have told someone, or that it is something that they did that allowed the crime to be committed against them. NOT TRUE!!! Do not take responsibility for something you didn't do. You were violated and victimized once, don't allow it twice. If guilt is persisting and is impacting your relationship negatively, you probably need to seek professional counseling.